The musical Gypsy is considered by many to be one of theater’s greatest works. With music by Jule Styne, lyrics by the legendary Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents, the show is based on the 1957 memoirs of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee.
The story follows Rose, the mother of all stage mothers, and her stop-at-nothing attempts to bring fame to her daughters, Baby June and Louise, while secretly yearning for it herself, setting the stage for a tumultuous relationship between mom and daughters.
The musical contains many songs that became popular standards, including “Everything’s Coming up Roses,” “Together (Wherever We Go),” “Small World,” “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” “Let Me Entertain You” and “Rose’s Turn.”
Toby’s Dinner Theater is performing Gypsy until March 17, under the direction of Mark Minnick and Toby Orenstein. Cathy Mundy plays Rose, while MaryKate Brouillet plays Louise, the daughter who rises to fame as a stripper.
“I’ve always had a love for this show, starting early in my life. I saw the movie when I was young and I knew my mom had played this part when she was in college so I always have had a fondness,” Brouillet says. “Once this opportunity came up at Toby’s, I was thrilled to take part.”
The actress is no stranger to working at the theater, having done shows such as The Little Mermaid, Newsies, Les Miserables and Peter Pan, and she was excited to perform Gypsy in the theater’s round setting.
“I love performing in the round because every section of the audience is getting a different performance and seeing something different,” she says. “The biggest obstacle with doing it for this show is the strip sequence, because there’s no curtain to hide, and eyes are on me from every direction. I knew people would be seeing me, but I think we pulled it off well and it’s staged beautifully and tastefully.”
Playing Louise has been a joy for Brouillet, and she’s really dived deep into her role.
“I love the journey that Louise takes and I get to take with her every night,” she says. “Just seeing everything through her eyes is really interesting. She’s really observing everyone around her and to constantly be cut out and put off by her mom, it’s fun for me to take it all in and observe and react to what’s happening. In the second act, she builds more confidence, and takes that wild ride, which is fun.”
Brouillet also enjoys working with her on-stage mom Mundy, who she first worked with 15 years ago in Mame.
“I remember having this dream of growing up and being able to do Gypsy with her because I knew this was a role she was born to play,” she says. “I never imagined I would be playing her Louise. It’s a dream come true and she’s a wonderful woman and insanely talented performer. We have a really strong bond.”
Audiences have been loving it as well, especially the dynamic between mother and daughter.
“It’s a wonderful, powerful story about women. There are three strong women at the center and the supporting cast in the second act is strong women as well,” Brouillet says. “Not to say anything against the men. I think Herbie is one of my favorite theatrical roles ever, but it’s such a great musical for women.”
Gypsy is playing at Toby’s Dinner Theatre. For tickets or more information, visit tobysdinnertheatre.com. This is one you won’t want to miss!